The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has warned that the NHS is failing patients with multiple sclerosis by providing inadequate services in hospitals.
A survey for the RCP found that access to basic services – including pain relief – is a matter of geographical location, meaning the UK’s 85,000 sufferers are subject to a “postcode lottery”. The body accused the NHS of failing to implement guidelines issued by NICE in 2003 on the management of the condition.
MS is an autoimmune disease which can lead to symptoms ranging from pins and needles to fatigue and paralysis. The RCP’s audit revealed that only 36% of people with the disease had access to neurological rehabilitation facilities, which can reduce the severity of symptoms. And long delays mean half of patients are waiting more than 20 weeks to be diagnosed after a GP referral.
“It seems incredible that after five years we are no nearer to commissioning the full range of services that MS patients need and deserve,” RCP president Professor Ian Gilmore said.
The report made a series of recommendations, and called on the Department of Health to ensure MS sufferers had access to adequate services to meet their clinical needs.
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